Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Event eases route to college



A ‌windstorm and power outage couldn’t blow away the ‌excitement recently for some young people getting practical help for their college dreams, through the guidance of CJAMM (Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries).

CJAMM had invited 27 youths who had participated in New Day Camps during summers past. Those events for children of incarcerated parents are held annually for ages 8-11 and 12-14.

The Oklahoma United Methodist agency seeks to grow connections with the campers, to be a positive influence on their lives, beyond the week of New Day.

Ministry leaders learned of a way to help some who’d outgrown the camp age requirements. Those students now were struggling with college application processes.

Several found the paperwork "too hard" to fill out when they began to apply for grants and other financial aid, said Kristin Harlin, CJAMM’s executive director.

The weekend event in Oklahoma City was designed to assist the young "leaders in training." Several colleges and universities sent representatives, including the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, East Central University, Northeastern State University, and Seminole State College.

The event, a first for CJAMM, kicked off April 29 at OKC-Wesley United Methodist Church. Foreboding weather reduced attendance, Harlin said.

Then strong wind knocked out the building’s power.

But the conversations continued even without electricity, with note-taking on white boards, Harlin said.

As the power outage continued, OKC-Grace United Methodist Church offered its space — and electricity — so the group could continue its work and fun. An overnight lock-in party was on the schedule.

Harlin said the group played games all night and "ate lots of food." She hopes to again offer the program in the future.


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